Dragonharper is the first «Crossroads Adventure» gamebook in the Dragonriders of Pern series, written by Jody Lynn Nye. Was first published by Tor Books in August 1987, cover by Doug Beekman. The book inside has illustrations by Todd Cameron Hamilton.
Young Harper Robinton's first odyssey on Pern! With an all-new introductory essay by Anne McCaffrey! Crossroads Adventures allow the reader to take the part of the main character and make their decisions for them.
Dragonharper, while still a story, is a «gamebook», where the events are determined by the choices of the reader and also by dice rolls, determining if a character succeeds in a chosen goal or not. As such, a number of endings are possible. Two «written» endings exist: one where Journeyman Robinton arrives at Benden Hold, and one where Robinton is returned to the Harper Hall, having been retrieved by C'gan. The latter of these is the default ending if Robinton gets into deep trouble or is severely injured in any way.
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Dragonharper opens at the Harper Hall, where Journeyman Robinton is told by Masterharper Aldrem that he is to be posted to Benden Hold. After bidding farewell to his parents, Robinton travels to Fort Sea Hold and boards the Sea Dragon, which will take him to Nerat Hold; from there, he will have to make his own way to Benden Hold.
On board the Sea Dragon, Robinton engages in a singing contest with the sailors during the first night. At «false dawn», a storm hits the ship; Robinton can either stay on deck and help, and also attempt to prevent his luggage going overboard — if he falls in, he is rescued by Numa, the ship's mate — or go below and wait it out, and rescue his gitar from becoming damaged — following this, Arloc, a sailor, makes him return to the top deck to help. Following the storm, Robinton joins several of the crewmen in the rigging, and aids in rescuing Vanris when the rope he is holding snaps. Two days later — provided he escaped major injury — Robinton notices a figure at the cargo net, and later finds that Tarosi, another sailor, has lost some of his trading goods.
The Sea Dragon arrives at Ista Hold — to deliver pitch — and Robinton makes his way to shore via gangplank — although the sailors attempt to make him fall, to «baptise» him as one of them. Robinton makes his way to the Istan gather, and has a brief altercation with a Holder who believes he is insulting Ista when he recounts a Teaching Ballad about shelter — which has the potential to become a fight.
Upon reaching the gather, Robinton has the option of exploring, or going directly to Master Caitlon, Ista Hold's Harper. Regardless of his choice, he ends up performing alongside the Istan Harpers at the gather — where they perform a song recently written for the first child of the Ruathan Lord Holders. During a break, Robinton sees Lord Raid of Benden Hold is attending, and appears to be criticising the Harper's performance. Robinton decides to make Raid the subject of a comedic song he's been writing, albeit with a different name. If Robinton decides to play the song at the gather, Raid calls him over, having enjoyed the tune and believing it to be about Lord Corman of Keroon Hold — although Lord Dinesdain of Ista Hold can tell it is really about Raid; if he decides to inform Raid, Robinton will be sent back to the Harper Hall.
Following his performance, Raid gives Robinton a message to deliver to Benden Hold, and they move inside Ista Hold to eat, before dancing and playing more tunes — including Robinton's comic tune about Raid, which Caitlon requests a copy of due to its popularity with the holders — before heading back to the Sea Dragon.
The next day, Robinton finds his pipe is missing — despite Arloc claiming it was placed in his cabin by another sailor. In addition to this, Arloc's good knife goes missing from the galley, Dolgi's son's belt disappears while Kurram is on watch, and Vanris and Juros's marks — which they were saving to buy a boat called «Misty» with, after their home hold — are taken. Robinton discusses the possiblity of theft with Captain Elaus, and the crew conduct a search of the ship, and the missing objects are found in the mast lookout, stolen by Gurner, a reclusive sailor. Gurner accuses Robinton of planting the stolen goods there, before attacking Robinton.
Following the fight, Gurner is put in chains, and set ashore — to be no longer welcome on boat, ship, or in Seahold — when the Sea Dragon reaches Nerat Tip. Robinton bids farewell to the sailors at Nerat Hold — and is given a pot of numbweed by Arloc — before heading to the Beastmaster to buy a runner to travel to Benden Hold — attempting to travel on foot will prove too exhausting.
After choosing a runner — one of which is faster than the other — and negotiating the price, Robinton makes his way north. After several days of travel — four if he took the faster runner, two sevendays otherwise — Robinton finds a river, refilling his canteen and bathing, and enounters a river snake, which he either has to trap or kill — attempting to flee will result in the snake attacking him — before returning to his runner — which he names «Twitch» — and his camp to treat his wounds. If Robinton was bitten by the snake from behind, this means he cannot ride, and loses two days of travel while he waits for his wounds to heal.
As he and Twitch continue down the road to Half-Circle Sea Hold, Twitch becomes spooked by a wild wher — sunning itself — and bolts. Robinton gives chase, encountering a slope — if he is unable to stop himself in time, he falls down it into a thorn bush — and eventually making his way to Twitch, who he has to calm down — this can be accomplished in a number of ways: by attempting to herd him to the road, by grabbing the rein, by luring him, or by waiting for him to calm down on his own, but Twitch may bolt, attack or accidentally injure Robinton, instead of calmly returning to the road — before making camp, where he witnesses F'lon, the Weyrleader of Benden Weyr conducting a drill in the air.
The next day, Robinton encounters Danol, a Smithcrafter on his way to Nerat Hold to sell his wares: wooden boxes and puzzles, which Robinton may purchase if he wishes, before continuing on his way. By this point, if Robinton has run out of food, he may attempt to forage. As they continue to Half-Circle Sea Hold through poor weather, Robinton notes Twitch is poking with his left forefoot — regardless of whether he stops to check or not, it turns out Twitch has got a stone wedged in his toe. Robinton dismounts Twitch and walks the remainder of the route to Half-Circle Sea Hold, where Twitch is taken away for treating.
Robinton is bathed and has his hair cut by a holder, before being taken to the home of Jumerti, who tells him Twitch will be unable to travel for a while, but offers to buy him from Robinton. Robinton eats with Jumerti and his family, joined by Daro and Teer, sailors who are rival suitors for Orelia, Jumerti's daughter. Jumerti and his wife Lian leave after the meal, and Robinton sees that Daro and Teer are about to fight one another, and attempts to defuse the situation. If he fails to do so, he can end up fighting Daro, potentially aided by Teer. Orelia will break up the fight if Robinton is losing — provided he has not been grievously injured.
Afterwards, Robinton plays music for Orelia, Daro and Teer, Orelia requesting a sea ballad at the end. If Robinton plays it, a jealous Daro grips his arm and insults him — if Robinton takes insult, Daro slams him against the wall and leaves with Teer, otherwise Robinton breaks his grip and heads to his room; in either case, Orelia later treats him with numbweed. In the night, Orelia comes to see him, and they kiss.
The next morning, Robinton is introduced to Keir, a Mastertrader from Valley Hold whose train is travelling to Bayhead Hold. Robinton has the option of travelling with the traders — at the cost of eight marks — or continuing to Bayhead Hold alone.
Option 1: Travel With The Traders
Robinton decides to travel with the traders — and can negotiate the price — and says his farewells as they begin travelling, moving north to avoid the marshes near Bayhead Hold. Also travelling with the traders is Coron, the fourth son of Lord Raid, who treats Robinton as a «vassal» of Benden Hold — as a result, Robinton decides to rewrite his comic tune to suit Coron instead of Raid.
When they stop to camp, Robinton initially refrains from playing due to Coron's expression, and instead engages him in a game of riddles — which can end with either Coron or Robinton winning, although it doesn't impact the story — before playing a tune he learnt on the Sea Dragon while they eat. In the night, Robinton wakes to find a thief attempting to steal his tools. He fights the thief; if he loses but is not too grievously injured, the thief escapes with his tools, but if he wins, the traders arrive and take the thief away — in either case, Robinton is rewarded with four marks, and gains more respect from the traders.
Continuing onwards and later camping in a valley, Robinton rests in the shade of a tree, and dreams of dragons flying in the sky, one of whom lands on a tree, which Robinton finds to be real when he wakes — he assumes his mind is playing tricks on him. The next day, Coron's runner]is spooked by a marsh-dweller and bolts, throwing Coron to the ground, but Robinton manages to stop it. Coron demands Robinton give the runner to him; if Robinton decides he has had enough of Coron's manner, a fight breaks out between them.
As they continue onward, Robinton muses about the dragon he dreamed about, and Wissa — Keir's daughter — suggests he play it on a harp, and gives him one — a commision piece — and allows him to play it until they arrive at Bayhead Hold. Robinton begins playing a Teaching Ballad, and one of the carters announces his belief that Thread is gone forever, and the dragonriders are obsolete. Robinton turns on him, but Coron takes over — as is his duty — and reminds the carter of his duty — depending on his mood, and whether or not Robinton fought him, he may either request Robinton continue playing and end up on better terms with him, or he may tell Robinton he doesn't know his place, and potentially force him to return to the Harper Hall. Not long afterwards, they arrive at Bayhead Hold, where a gather is underway, and Robinton goes to see Harper Mettin.
Option 2: Travel Alone
Robinton decides to travel alone — although the traders think this is a bad choice — and purchases a new runner from Jumerti. He says his farewells and begins travelling, although a storm begins not long afterwards, and a lightning bolt strikes the ground, causing a scared wherry to burst from the bushes and scare the runner, knocking Robinton off a cliff. If he manages to climb back up — or is not too injured by falling — Robinton continues on with the runner and later sets up camp, before going to hunt Torguana lizards — trapping one, which fights back.
If Robinton manages to kill it, he returns to his runner — which he names «Twitch Too» — and camp and cooks it, although the smell attracts a pack of wild canines. Robinton can either fight them — like before, attempting to flee results in him being attacked — or hide behind his campfire until they leave. The next day, he finds he has become covered in ashes from the fire, and washes. Robinton continues on for a while, before resting in the shade of a tree, and dreaming of dragons flying in the sky, one of whom lands on a tree, which Robinton finds to be real when he wakes — he assumes his mind is playing tricks on him.
Robinton follows a trail north, later stopping to rest, and noticing a snake close to his legs. If Robinton remains still, it goes for Twitch Too — who kills it by trampling it, although Robinton can attempt to throw a knife at it to help — otherwise Robinton rushes to climb a tree — if he misses, he has to fight the snake — where he discovers another snake — either getting away from it or falling from the tree.
In the afternoon, Robinton reaches Bayhead Hold, where a gather is underway. Robinton meets up with Mastertrader Keir, who shows him a harp, a commission piece. Robinton admires it, and tunes the harp, before going to see the Bayhead Hold Harper, Mettin.
In his rooms, Mettin offers to send word to Robinton's family. Not long afterwards, C'gan — a dragonrider who was an apprentice with Mettin — arrives at Bayhead Hold, and takes Robinton to meet his dragon, Tagath, before offering to fly him to Benden Hold. C'gan reveals there will be a Hatching at Benden Weyr soon, and he takes Robinton to see it — either C'gan decides to take Robinton of his own accord, or Robinton suggests to Mettin that he could use the opportunity to learn about the Weyr, and Mettin tells C'gan to take him.
C'gan takes Robinton and his luggage to Benden Weyr, unloading their assorted goods in [agath's weyr — including the harp the traders showed him — before heading down to the Hatching Grounds to watch the Hatching. Afterwards, C'gan takes him to the Living Caverns, and introduces him to several dragonriders. Robinton also meets Felar — who hopes to one day have a bronze dragon called «Mynyth» — and Fanor, the sons of F'lon, who show up not long afterwards and tells him he can stay, despite Hatchings normally being private.
Robinton plays a number of tunes to the dragonriders — including his comic tune about Lord Raid, the tune written for the first child of the Ruathan Lord Holders, and a sea tune. Afterwards, F'lon thanks him, and notes that Benden Weyr should make more contact with the outside world. Robinton heads to Tagath's weyr, where C'gan reveals the harp from Keir was to be a welcome gift to Robinton, before loading his baggage on Tagath, and taking him to Benden Hold.
The gamebook Dragonharper was written by Jody Lynn Nye before the The Dragonlover's Guide to Pern (1989) and long before the novel The Masterharper of Pern (1998), so some names and events in these two works differ from those mentioned in a novel. Since The Masterharper of Pern was written by Anne McCaffrey, it is to be considered the accurate source of information.
|Dragonharper||The Masterharper of Pern|
|The Lord Holders of Ruatha prior to Fax were Lord Micawl — a name also mentioned in the Dragonlover's Guide to Pern — and Lady Caryda.||The Lord Holders of Ruatha prior to Fax were Lord Kale and Lady Adessa.|
|Robinton's first posting as Journeyman was at Benden Hold under Master Evarel; he travelled there via ship — the Sea Dragon — and later by runner — Twitch — before . Lord Raid was Lord Holder of Benden Hold at this time.||Robinton's first posting as Journeyman was at High Reaches Hold under Master Lobirn, and he travelled there with the aid of F'lon and Simanith. After three Turns there, Robinton travelled to Benden Hold via ship and later by runner, and worked under Master Evarel. Lord Maidir was Lord Holder of Benden Hold at this time, although he later died along with Weyrleader S'loner in an accident at Benden Weyr, resulting in Raid becoming Lord Holder.|
|The Masterharper prior to Robinton was Aldrem.||The Masterharper prior to Robinton was Gennell.|
|F'lar and F'nor's names prior to Impressing their dragons were «Felar» and «Fanor»||F'lar and F'nor's names prior to Impressing their dragons were «Fallarnon» and «Famanoran»-|
- Master Morshal is said to be the Apprentice Master, and Petiron is on good terms with his son — in addition to that, he and Merelan live at Fort Hold.
- Robinton seems to have never met F'lon before.